National Security Archive director on "Wikimania," and the dangers of demonizing WikiLeaks

Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, was among those who testified today before the House Judiciary Committee on the aftermath of "Cablegate" and Wikileaks. Blanton believes efforts to tighten secrecy and crack down on leakers and press will be "fundamentally self-defeating."
"There is more heat than light," Blanton stated, citing calls for broadening the Espionage Act and assassinating Wikileaks leader, Julian Assange. Hasty punitive reactions, he predicted, "will actually produce more leaks, more crackdowns, less accountable government, and diminished security."

"History shows we end up doing more damage from the overreaction than from the original leak."

More on his statements here. (via Submitterator, thanks jennybean42)


    1. Note that he is the director of the National Security Archive, not the National Security Agency. Use of the term NSA is typically reserved for the latter.

      1. I _think_ “whoosh” is appropriate, but I’m not trying to be mean.

        A very level headed response. One wonders why the voice of reason is always lost in the din.

        “Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

        –Goering, Hermann

        1. I _think_ “whoosh” is appropriate, but I’m not trying to be mean.

          I missed the irony too. It’s hard to tell online!

          Anyway, I agree, it is a very good response, and I’m surprised their aren’t more comments on this posting — I guess it is because you can’t get worked up about it.

          Unfortunately, his position isn’t that noteworthy, first because it is expected (uncovering and documenting security information is his job and passion) and second because he doesn’t have any real power here. Nice to have a voice, though, and much better than if NO ONE gave this testimony.

  1. Assange cannot bring down the American government, but the American government reacting to what Assange does can. The reality, in the law, is that if they bring up Assange on charges, they’ll have to charge the NYT at least. Then, they’ll need to fight SPOTUS on first amendment. Obama just completely destroyed his base with the tax cut deal, you think he’s really going to double down with this? Well, considering he doesn’t have much to lose anymore, who knows haha!

  2. Sadly, no one will listen to him. The wheels are in motion, supposedly, and the train wreck will be down the track.

  3. “An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.” — from their “about” page.

    I suspect that the sorts of people who are calling for Assange’s assassination and new laws against publication of secrets would also place the National Security Archive firmly into the “part of the problem” bin.

  4. All the denouncements and death threats are just the Government version of the Streisand Effect, eh?

  5. “History shows we end up doing more damage from the overreaction than from the original leak.”

    History also shows people don’t learn much from history.

  6. Nice to see a voice of reason somewhere around. The entire reaction to Wikileaks has been so mind-numbingly moronic it hurts. (“Let’s stop the people who should read this from reading it, and only let our enemies and the public see it!”)

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